To paraphrase Warren Buffett, your personal brand “better be building something special.” To create a noteworthy personal brand, is much more than your resume, your LinkedIn profile or a few posts you’ve created. It’s a reflection of who you are. Although those tactics are valuable, you also need to use win-win opportunities, cross-channel social media tactics and good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings to establish leadership and promote yourself.
Step 1: Find your Brand
The most important first step in creating your brand is to decide how you want to be known and what you would like people to associate with you. Ask yourself what your own keywords and best traits are and what your goals are for the next year. Test out the results on friends and colleagues to see if what you’ve come up with rings true. You have to know yourself before you can tell other people who you are.
This self-knowledge is key to developing a basis for your self promotion, and helps support the idea that brands are developed over time and don’t happen by chance. Thinking through your messaging and your core work values will help consistently communicate who you are online and in person.
Step 2: Create an Online Strategy
Once you know your brand identity, you can create a plan for your online presence and social media accounts. You don’t need to go for “perfect” content but it should reflect your personal tone and visual identity. Vulnerability and acknowledging challenges and failures can make you relatable and approachable. Think of your favorite online accounts – they probably aren’t strictly business.
Once you are up and running, you need to make sure you regularly post new content. Weekly, even daily, updates are a great way to keep people engaged in your work, and you can always create interactive questions or share a personal anecdote in a pinch. You can also show you are accessible this way. Once you start directing eyes to your content, you may be asked to serve as an industry expert on short notice.
In order to keep your content fresh and relevant, keep learning about your industry and building your network. Make sure you actively follow leaders and experts in your field. One platform that can help in this process is LinkedIn. Posting punchy articles there on trending topics (that you want others to relate to you) that include personal tales of success or even videos can draw people to your company and you can connect to other professionals in the process.
But it’s not just LinkedIn. Make sure your executive resume, biography and other social profiles actively communicate your personal brand in a consistent way. After all, if you don’t give a detailed vision of who you are and what you stand for, the online community will make it for you — and that can be a branding disaster.
Step 3: Remain an Active Thought Leader in your Industry
Another shortcut to building your brand is to gain the approval of an authority in your industry. If you get a quote or recommendation on your accounts it can garner attention — and you can offer to link back to their work in return. This gives you credibility as people get to know you and helps secure your place as an emerging thought leader and industry spokesperson.
In the process of developing and shaping your brand, don’t forget to take some time to reflect and reevaluate. Burnout is a real issue and can keep you from developing and progressing as a professional. Occasionally, you need to take time and space to keep developing your brand, your goals, and your thoughts on the industry. This can be as simple as scheduling a sport-related class or some downtime in your workday. Or you could schedule a day.
Finally, understand that no matter how much work you put in to manage what’s out there, you can’t always control what happens. However, you can make the most of your skills and opportunities and respond quickly to whatever is occurring. With these tips and approaches, anyone from a CEO to an emerging entrepreneur can create a real persona beyond the strict professional that showcase a truly personal brand.